Fun @ Inamo

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Warning: we were invited to review this restaurant and the entire meal was paid for by the house. The following below is our independent view, but you have been warned.

The PigPig told me before about the exceptionally cool menu system at Inamo, where the table becomes an interactive menu and one can order food and drinks without ever actually talking to a waiter, perfect for technophiles and antisocial people like us. When I heard of the pan-Asian menu, I was ready to write this place off as a place serving semi-decent food and relying on its gimmick to attract customers. So I was really surprised when the PigPig came back after a meal there months ago saying the food was surprisingly good, and I was even more happy to get a chance to review this restaurant.

Inamo, London 01

Inamo, London 03

Inamo had a bar as well so the setting was suitably darkened with just the occasional wall lights. The tables and chairs were of a simple functional modern style and more importantly was completely plain. Presumably this was so the projectors from above had a clean slate to display upon.

Inamo, London 02

From the touchpad on the bottom right corner, one can peruse and order all food and drinks available; the waiter will then bring to the table whichever order is ready from the kitchen in no particular order.

Inamo, London 06

In addition to that, we could also change the background image and the colours for some of the patterns displayed on the table.

Inamo, London 04

There are also little bonus things such as a webcam of the kitchen, games such as battleship as well as little touristy things such as displaying a map of the area along with various attractions nearby.

Inamo, London 05

We started off with some cocktails. I chose a “Sake Mojito” which was exceedingly light and great to drink on a hot summer’s day; in fact the PigPig was so jealous of my choice she knocked it over in a hissy fit. Her “Raspberry lemon cooler” was alright but a little bit more bitter than she would have liked.

Inamo, London 13

Small dishes

Nigiri Set”. Simple things done right taste great. The two pieces each of salmon, tuna and yellowfish had a good texture and seemed fresh enough (fresh being difficult to clarify since almost all fish get frozen anyway) while the rice was well seasoned and packed together pretty well (didn’t fall apart which does happen even in sushi restaurants).

Inamo, London 10

Soft Shell Crab Maki Rolls”. Who doesn’t love soft shell crab maki? Anyway the rice was already good so the deep fried soft shell crab addition could only make it better. My only complaint was the over-abundance of the lettuce leaves.

Inamo, London 11

Hamachi with soy mirin truffle”. The thinly sliced hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi soaked up the lightly flavoured marinade which was supposed to have truffle oil but I didn’t notice it much. There definitely was oil of some sort which helped bring out the taste of the fish better.

Inamo, London 15

Wild Boar Rolls”. The compact dense rolls were filled with wild boar meat, asparagus strips and bits of enoki mushrooms. There were also a fair amount of salty beans (?yellow beans) on top which made things too salty but it could just be shaken off. This combination wasn’t precisely bad, but it felt a bit underwhelming compared to the other dishes.

Inamo, London 08

Alaskan King Crab”. Buoyed by my experience of king crab at One-O-One. I was slightly deflated by Inamo’s version as the shredded meat was dry and didn’t seem as sweet as usual. The other bits and herbs added to the crab were nice but it didn’t make much difference as there’s no point flogging a dead horse.

Inamo, London 09

Large dishes

Black Cod”. Any restaurant worth its salt selling Japanese or modern Japanese cuisine will have their own version of this dish on their menu after Nobu super-popularised this. Most people still claim Nobu’s version is better than whichever other restaurant they’ve tried, but there are some small voices (lol perhaps not a small voice after all) saying Inamo’s version is just as good as Nobu.

Inamo, London 07

I’m slightly inclined to agree with Catty as the fish here was superb to eat. The two juicy fillets given were sweetly marinated and the natural fattiness of the fish went really well with the salty miso. We didn’t order any rice but it would have gone a treat with the black cod. My only complaint was that one or two edges of the fish were a bit on the dry and tough side.

Sashimi Platter”. As I mentioned earlier for the sushi nigiri, the fish generally had a good firm texture and felt reasonably fresh. More interestingly was the dollop of green wasabi mix which was slightly runny and so was easier to eat with the slices of fish. The scallops had a weird bitter taste though.

Inamo, London 20

Duck with Pancakes”. Pretty much a standard crispy duck with pancake and hoi sin sauce, but with a Vietnamese influence (I did mention this was a pan-Asian menu); instead of the cucumber and spring onion, bean sprouts and mint (like for a pho) were provided. It actually worked pretty well.

Inamo, London 14

Wagyu Bavette”. Perfectly grilled on the outside for a slightly charred surface while the inside remains juicily pink, this was a great main to eat. I wasn’t convinced about the marbling of the wagyu, but the beef strips (all nicely cubed for us) had a great natural beefy taste, nicely augmented by the light soy based sauce. Another dish which would have gone really great with some rice.

Inamo, London 12

Black Faced Lamb”. The grilled lamb itself was well cooked and pretty tasty, but the accompanying beans on top (also present in the Wild Boar Rolls) were far too salty.

Inamo, London 21

Desserts

Vanilla Crème Brûlée”. The naked pudding certainly doesn’t look like a typical crème brûlée but the creamy rich milky custard, enfused with the slight strawberry juice around it was great to eat.

Inamo, London 19

Macaron and white chocolate mousse”. The pandan flavoured macaron and the mousse within was a good pairing and it was quite nice to eat except for the gingered sweets scattered about which was more due to personal tastes than anything else. Similarly the lemongrass and coconut sorbet was a bit hit and miss for me as I’m not a huge fan of processed coconut flavours.

Inamo, London 17

Thai Basil Pana Cotta”. As with the crème brûlée, the panna cotta was very rich and creamy and the infusion of basil flavour gave this a nice twist.

Inamo, London 18

Altogether the bill came up to nearly £200 for three people. We might have ordered quite a lot of dishes and we were pretty full but not exactly stuffed. In retrospect though we should probably have ordered some rice to go with the mains which would help balance out the meal as well.

Inamo, London 16

Food – 7.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 4.0


Not much to complain about really. The food all had strong vibrant flavours and there wasn’t a lot wrong with most of it. I certainly enjoyed almost all the stuff placed in front of me and I would be more than happy to visit Inamo again.

Best bit: the super cool menu.
Worst bit: the pricetag.

Thanks again for the wonderful experience!

Inamo
134-136 Wardour Street,
Soho,
London,
W1F 8ZP
Tel: +44(020) 7851 7051
Official website

Inamo on Urbanspoon


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Ricotta Pound Cake

Monday, 28 June 2010

To be honest, I've never had a pound cake. I only know it's traditionally made with a pound of each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. I came across this recipe at Food Gal's and the amazingly moist texture caught my attention. It is made with ricotta instead of 8 or 9 large eggs like most other traditional recipes call for. I halved the recipe and although mine came out looking totally different, it still tasted delicious. It was really moist and for some weird reason, the cake had a slight nutty flavour which reminded me of almond cake.

ricotta pound cake

Ingredients: 6" cake
Adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (180g) ricotta
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar for dusting
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  • Position a rack in the center.
  • Grease a loaf pan (I used a 6-inch round cake pan) with nonstick cooking spray or butter, dust it with flour, and tap to knock out the excess.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream togther butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light, about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds with blunt side of a small knife, then beat them into batter along with vanilla extract.
  • On low speed, beat in dry ingredients to combine them, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat batter for 30 seconds on medium speed.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Give the pan a few gentle whacks on the counter to remove any air pockets.
  • Bake cake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 160ºC and continue baking until the cake springs back lightly when touched, the sides have begun to pull away from the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes more.
  • Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto the rack to cool completely.
  • Dust cake lightly with icing sugar before serving it; the flavor is best on the next day. Any leftover cake may be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cake also freezes beautifully, wrapped in plastic, and place in a large, sealable plastic bag.
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Maze* by Gordon Ramsay (Revisited)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

We had already eaten here last year and while we were unimpressed by the food in general, the restaurant itself is a pretty good sight especially during the rare occasions when the sun deems itself worthy to play with us as the large airy room was comfortable while managing to avoid the apparent sterility that affects some of the other Michelin starred restaurants.

Actually, my granduncle wanted to eat Japanese food, but on a Sunday lunch a lot of them were closed. We did manage to book a table for nine at Maze on very short notice, so perhaps that says a little about how popular it is now. Anyway for simplicity’s sake, we all had the same 4 savoury courses.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 01

Chilled gazpacho, slow cooked octopus, ink, aioli, cucumber”. On a hot summers day, a cold soup was certainly refreshing. Tastewise though it was a little on the tart side and the squid ink granita added an interesting colour twist but not anything in terms of flavour. Similarly, the aioli didn’t blend well unlike the original gazpacho (or salmorejo which I prefer) which has pretty strong lashings of garlic. On the bright side, the octopus was really tender, the texture was more like fish.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 02

Pressed pork shoulder, smoked tongue shavings, herb paste, coleslaw, shallot vinegar”. We were all a bit surprised as it was actually a terrine. The mixture itself was pretty decent and tasty but very meaty and lacked enough fat that usually comes in a terrine. That being said, the shallot vinegar that accompanied it was a refreshing change from the usual sweet chutney/jam bit.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 03

Pan roasted Shetland cod, ‘ham, egg & peas’”. Firstly, the cod itself was still nice and juicy and was nicely seasoned but the additional ham made the entire mixture far too salty. The pea soup mixture was also slightly weird for me while the little soft boiled quail’s egg was rather insignificant.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 04

Salt marsh lamb rump with coastal herbs, Sussex Slipcote, lamb consommé”. The lamb was beautifully cooked, juicy pink in the middle and cooked around the rim. The consommé was a great accompaniment while the chives added a fresh green aroma. I’m never a huge fan of cheese and the goat’s cheese had a strong sharp smell which I scarcely enjoyed. Also I think the saltiness from the samphire was just a bit too much when there was already cheese on the plate.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 10

At this point we had desserts and the table just shared the two dishes below amongst us.

Pistachio cake, Kent raspberries, pistachio crumble”. The cake had sufficient pistachio taste but the texture was slightly weird, not really a cake nor a bread. It also seemed a little on the bland side and it could have used a little bit more sugar, especially when combined with the rather tart raspberries.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 07

Lemon posset, strawberry salad, beurre noisette & hazelnut”. The lemon posset had the right balance between sour, sweet and creamy while the nuts added some nice crunchyness. I felt the lemon sorbet was a bit of a sour overkill though.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 06

Altogether, the bill came up to £500 for the nine of us including two bottles of wine and more than a couple bottles of still water which work out to about £55 a head.

Maze, Gordon Ramsay 08


Food – 6.5
Service – 7.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 4.0

I found the food here a lot better than on my first visit, but I found that most of the courses still had quite a few issues even though they were quite minor ones.

Best bit: seeing my cousin writhe in embarrassment as he wore short pants while the other diners were quite smartly dressed.
Worst bit: pistachio cake (more like mush), blergh.

Maze
15 Grosvenor Sq
Mayfair,
W1K 6JP
Official website
Tel: +44(0)207495 2211

Maze on Urbanspoon

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Homemade Gnocchi with Corned Beef & Asparagus

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sad to say that I've used my my last batch of homemade gnocchi. I actually planned to serve this with a tomato-based meat sauce but since asparagus is in abundance now and it's Summer, I decided to make some light and more refreshing.

Gnocchi with corned beef asparagus

Ingredients: serves 2
  • 2 portions Gnocchi
  • 350g asparagus spears - ends snapped off and cut into 2 inches pieces
  • 1/2 can corned beef
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs fried garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice
Directions:
  • Cook gnocchi in large pot of salted, boiling water until they float to the surface. Drain.
  • Heat up butter and oil in a pan.
  • Add corned beef, stir-fry until lightly browned.
  • Add asparagus, stir-fry until tender.
  • Mix in boiled gnocchi.
  • Sprinkle fried garlic on gnocchi.
  • Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle some black pepper and serve!
Gnocchi with corned beef
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Homemade Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I bookmarked this recipe straightaway when I saw the picture at Foodess. The pile of gnocchi has nice really nice golden hue to it, how can anyone resist that greasy shine on food?! The sauce is really simple yet full of wonderful flavours. The brown butter has this nice nutty flavour, which adds a really nice touch to just regular fatty buttery taste. I added a splash of lemon juice to freshen up the dish, and also to cut through the fattiness of the butter (the wild boar is very sensitive to the strong taste of butter). I also added some leftover meat as the wild boar needs his meat. All in all, it turned out amazingly tasty with just simple ingredients.

Gnocchi with browned butter sage
Ingredients:
Directions:
  • Cook gnocchi in large pot of salted, boiling water until they float to the surface. Drain.
  • Heat a huge chunk of butter (I used about 25g for 2 servings) in a large pan over medium-low heat until melted.
  • Add sage, fry until crispy, remove from pan leave aside for later use.
  • Add boiled gnocchi a few at a time to the browning butter, letting some of the sides to sear.
  • I mixed in some leftover gammon at this point. Leave to cook until gammon is heated through.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice.
  • Stir in crispy sage.
  • Serve with parmesan.

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Homemade Gnocchi

Monday, 21 June 2010

I never knew homemade gnocchi could be this good!

When I told the wild boar I was going to make gnocchi, he made this really sour face at me. He's not a huge fan of gnocchi as accoding to him, they are "starchy, stodgy, and heavy". But after eating his last bite of homemade gnocchi, he actually asked me when am I making it again. He even suggested making a huge batch for freezing! These homemade gnocchi were really delicate, very light and soft! The hardest part of the whole gnocchi-making process was passing the potatoes through a fine sieve. If you have a potato ricer, making gnocchi would be a breeze for you. Maybe I should invest in a potato ricer just for this *hint hint*

There are a few rules in making these pillow-soft gnocchi and here is a pretty good site for reference. To summarise:
  • Use waxy and nutty potatoes i.e. Russets, Yukon Golds...
  • Bake potatoes, don't boil.
  • Rice potatoes, don't mash (compressing will lead to dense and heavy gnocchi).
  • Use 2/3 plain/ all purpose flour to 1/3 cake flour.
  • To calculate how much flour to use, weigh potatoes AFTER baking and ricing as potatoes will lose almost half the weight. You'll need about 1 cup of flour for every pound (about 450g) of riced potato.
  • Use bench scraper or spatula to incorporate the potatoes and the flour. Try not to knead.
  • Try not to use eggs. But eggs hold the mixture together better. So if you intend to freeze the gnocchi, it is advisable to add eggs.
Gnocchi 5

Ingredients: serves 3-4
  • 690g potatoes
  • 1 egg yolk - beaten
  • 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • Salt
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Take a fork and pierce each potato a few times all over.
  • Bake for about 30 mins or until tender.
  • Leave to cool - until cool enough to handle with your hands.
  • Remove the skin with a knife and rice the potatoes with a fine potato ricer or, better yet, a sieve.
Gnocchi 1
  • Weigh potatoes again. This is to calculate how much flour to use. You'll need about 1 cup of flour for every pound (about 450g) of riced potato. Use two-thirds all-purpose flour to one-third cake flour. I got 320g of potatoes after passing through a sieve, so I used about 1/4 cup cake flour and 1/2 cup plain flour.
  • Add flour mixture, egg yolk and salt to riced potatoes. Combine with a rubber spatula. Form a ball with your hands, try to avoid kneading too much.
Gnocchi 2
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, cut into 4 equal portions and shape.
  • Roll out each piece into a rope and cut into little pieces. Or you can shape them however you want.
Gnocchi 3
  • Sprinkle some flour to avoid sticking.
  • Boil in a large pot of salted boiling water until they float.
  • For freezing, place fresh gnocchi (not boiled) on a baking tray (put them apart so they won't touch each other) and freeze. After they are frozen, place them in freezer bags.

Gnocchi 4

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Lychee Pork Ribs

Friday, 18 June 2010

I've finally set up a Facebook Page for my blog! If you want to receive regular updates about my blog, feel free to go and Like me =) You will also find "sneak preview" pictures of recipes that will appear on my blog eventually soon and also some behind the scenes pictures - pictures that you won't see on this blog. Thanks again for all your support!

I was going to cook a pork with pineapple dish but canned lychee was all I had in my pantry. I had a huge plan for that can of lychee when I bought it but my craving for a sweet and sour pork dish won. So I gave up on that "plan" and made this delicious dish instead. To be honest, I've only had lychee in a savoury dish once, many years ago at a cafe-restaurant in KL, Malaysia. The dish was duck curry with lychee. How could anyone resist ordering a dish like that?! It was creamy, salty, sweet and flavourful. Duck curry and lychee is on my to-cook list and hopefully will be in my tummy soon and eventually appear on this blog too =) For now, a dish made with my favourite part of the pork - ribs!

Lychee pork ribs 2
Ingredients:
  • 650g pork ribs
  • 1 can (567g wet weight, 255g drained) lychee in syrup
  • 1 stalk lemongrass - bashed
  • 2 cloves garlic - pressed
  • 2 dried chili - with seeds
  • 1 tbs vinegar
  • 1 tbs Cheong Chan Thick Dark Soy Sauce (Thick Caramel Sauce)
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
Directions:
  • Drain lychee. Reserve syrup for later use.
  • Pour syrup together with other ingredients into a pot.
  • Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until meat is tender and sauce is thickened (about 45 mins). Turn ribs every now and then to ensure even cooking.
  • Add more light soy sauce to taste if needed.
  • Mix in lychee, leave to cook for a few minutes.
Lychee pork ribs
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Lunch @ Arbutus*

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Yet another Michelin starred restaurant offering a good set lunch, this has been on my radar for a while since it has fairly positive reviews on the blogosphere. To lay the context for the rest of this review, let me quote from the Arbutus website regarding their statement of intent:

Our aim is to offer a great quality dining experience in relaxed and informal surroundings. At the heart of what we want to achieve is value for money and quality”.

So on a Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves making our way to Frith Street (again!), Soho and were soon showed to our little table by the window, much to the PigPig’s delight since bountiful sunlight meant great pictures. Even before I had time to eyeball the interior of the restaurant, the bouncy waitress had already given us our menus, winelist as well as offering us bread.

The choices were either brown or white sourdough and they were both really good. Even though it wasn’t made in-house, the bread was warm and tasted really fresh. When I asked where the bread was sourced from, the waitress kindly provided the name, address, telephone number and website.

Arbutus, London 01

We were drawn to Arbutus mainly because the set lunch seemed like really good value for money – £16.95 for 3 courses. However, we (ok, mainly me) wanted to sample more of the cooking on offer so the wife took the set lunch whilst I chose 2 courses of the ala carte menu.

“‘Traditional style’ country terrine, fruit chutney”. Even before eating it, we took a second to savour the appearance of this terrine with the sinful blobs of fat littered throughout. Tastewise it was as good as it looked being sufficiently rich and smooth and seasoned well although I felt the chutney was a bit too sweet and overpowering.

Arbutus, London 03

Braised pig’s head, potato puree, ravioli of caramelised onions”. Ok this does look like it had been whacked with the ugly stick a fair bit, but appearances can be deceiving. Slivers of meat (and various other bits I didn’t make out nor did I really want to identify) were stacked together to make a delicious little tower of gamey goodness. At first I thought it was a little under-seasoned, but when paired with the onions and little netting of ham over it, there was more than enough flavour to go around. Enjoyed every bit of it, especially the layer of soft bubbly fat.

Arbutus, London 02

Slow roast rabbit, potato gnocchi, courgettes”.

Arbutus, London 05

Plat du Jour: Roast rack of pork, St. George mushrooms, potato gnocchi, broad beans

Arbutus, London 04

I’m going to talk about both the main courses collectively as I think they are broadly similar – meat, cooked adequately and not overdone, slightly underseasoned but made up for it with the drizzling of gravy around it, served with a variety of vegetables; I though the rabbit had the more Mediterranean vegetables while the roast pork had the more traditional British ones.

A quick leaf through chef Anthony Demetre’s book (Today’s Special) in reception revealed that he was aiming for more traditional comfort bistro dishes. In that sense, I’m more understanding of the main dishes as although expertly cooked, I felt they lacked a certain spark of imagination and creativity.

Vanilla panna cotta, rhubarb”. We both felt the panna cotta was very rich and somewhat lacking in taste, although there was plenty of rhubarb compote to go around as well as the biscuit to help make up for it.

Arbutus, London 06

Altogether, the total cost was £48 for two which was incredibly good value for money for a one starred restaurant. Service was prompt and efficient throughout, although the restaurant was barely half full during our sitting so the staff was hardly stretched. There was a great boisterous feel during lunch too as the various diners were all chatting away merrily which made for a pleasant relaxed atmosphere.

Food – 7.8
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 7.0
Value – 7.0


Best bit: watching some people practicing tai chi across the street.
Worst bit: finding parking nearby.

Arbutus*
63-64 Frith Street
London
W1D 3JW
Tel: +44(020) 7734 4545
Official website

Arbutus on Urbanspoon

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